A number of agencies are now demanding that the Child Development Agency (CDA) clarify its roles and responsibilities as it relates to children in conflict with the law.
Following the concerns raised around a 14-year-old girl who is on trial for murder and gave birth last week, Jamaicans for Justice and Help Jamaica Children said yesterday that they have written to Maxine Henry-Wilson, chairman of the CDA, regarding the issue.
The letter was copied to Carla Francis-Edie, the chief executive officer of the agency.
In a statement to the media yesterday, the groups noted that recent events, particularly regarding the "continued housing of minors in police lock-ups and adult detention facilities and a 14-year-old girl who gave birth while before the courts on a murder charge", have prompted the call.
"What we have now is confusion and that cannot continue. We need the CDA to outline its roles and responsibilities in relation to children in conflict of the law, particularly so that we can know where to go to when issues like this arise," said Carolyn Gomes, executive director of Jamaicans for Justice.
Last week, The Gleaner reported that the 14-year-old murder accused from the community of Southside, central Kingston, had given birth reportedly for an adult male in the community.
There have been conflicting reports from the CDA and attorney for the teen, Elham Bogle, regarding the CDA's knowledge of the teen's pregnancy and involvement in her monitoring.
Among the issues the groups said they needed clarity on were:
• The responsibility of the CDA to all juveniles in conflict with the law, including those before the courts and on bail;
• The role of the CDA in the evaluation and monitoring of juvenile detention facilities;
• The role of the CDA in the evaluation and monitoring of juvenile offenders;
• The role the CDA plays, if any, in the training of correction officers and wardens to deal with juvenile offenders;
• The responsibility of the CDA, if any, to juveniles housed at adult correctional facilities such as Horizon and Fort Augusta.